I have been researching church and Riveli records for the 1600-1700's in various Sicilian locales and I have run across instances where there is a double surname, ie, Geraci Purdentia (some of the church records show Geraci, alias Purdentia), Colletti e Musso, Musso e Colletti.
Sometimes these same people are referred to with only one name, ie, Geraci or Purdentia, making it quite confusing when trying to trace a family line. In one 1714 Riveli there is a deceased Giuseppe Tomaso Musso e Colletti, yet his widow is called Caterina Colletti (her maiden name was di Genova). But their son is called Matteo Musso!
I originally though that perhaps one name is the fathers and the second the mothers but this has proven false. I am trying to figure out the significance of two surnames and why some of their children use only one of the surnames. Can someone explain this?
I too have an ancestor who appears in church records as Giovanna Colella and then as Giovanna Minchi-Petrucci and the name finally reverts back to Giovanna Colella. In my ancestor's case she married a Mancini (Minchi - old spelling) and may have been a descendent of the Mancini & Petrucci clans herself.
It was explained to me that there are a number of explanations for the double names:
1) The mother might have remarried and the priest or notary may have used the new father's or linked it to the prior father's name.
2) Using a second name may have been a way to distinguish one clan from another clan in the area with the same name. Most of these names were hyphenated.
3) The individual was related to a family of a higher social level and they wanted that fact to be recognized. Again Hyphenated names were used.
The fact that I have found that this differences only lasts a generation or two and the name reverts back to its original forms (most times).
In my family the double surname has lasted many, many generations which still baffles me as to why there are two names: Zambuto Sitra.
I like your reason #2- to distinguish from another clan. It seems to make sense since they were all from Agrigento (Girgenti). But then I wonder, why didn't that happen with all families? Thank you for the information.